This is a newsroll page on A Socialist In Canada, commencing September 2017. It aims to provide an overview of the large trends in Canadian political economy. Text in square brackets [ ] is by Roger Annis. The most recent entries are at top of the list. Beginning April 2018, headlines in red denote articles by Roger Annis. These are published on the website main page and also listed in their respective subject categories. Months preceding June 2018 are contained under ‘News pages archives’, which you can find in the listing of website categories. To find past stories on this and other news pages on this website, use the ‘find’ (word search) function on your web browser.
Canada newsroll on A Socialist In Canada, September 2018
Ontario’s highest court rules for Premier Ford, paves way to reduce size of Toronto city council, CBC News, Sept 19, 2018
* Ontario’s Trumpian premier continues his wrecking operation against Toronto municipal election slated for Oct 22, but the city’s chief clerk says conditions for a fair vote have gone up in smoke, report on CBC News, Sept 14, 2018
* Doug Ford needs a lesson in Canadian law, commentary by Marie Henein, Toronto lawyer, published in Globe and Mail op-ed page, Sept 14, 2018
[Canada’s own Donald Trump, the recently-elected Ontario Premier Doug Ford, is pressing for a special, weekend sitting of the Ontario Legislature in order to push through an unprecedented invocation of the ‘notwithstanding’ clause in the Canadian constitution allowing him to ignore a judge’s ruling on September 10 that Ford’s attempt to slash by one half the number of seats on Toronto city council is illegal. Toronto was supposed to hold a municipal election on October 22 but everything about it is up in the air.]
Gas fracking and liquefaction proposal in northern BC crawls forward with provincial NDP gov’t and First Nations encouragement, by Gordon Hoekstra, Vancouver Sun, Sept 15, 2018
* BC Premier Horgan is confident hurdles will be cleared to build a liquefied natural gas complex in northern coastal town of Kitimat, by Vaughn Palmer, columnist, Vancouver Sun, Sept 15, 2018
* Twenty First Nations have signed agreements in support of gas fracking pipeline that would feed LNG project in Kitimat BC, Alaska Highway News, Sept 13, 2018
[Natural gas fracking has decimated the land and waters of northwest British Columbia, with much more to come if liquefied natural gas (LNG) plans go ahead. The environmental movement in BC has vigorously opposed the Trans Mountain tar sands pipeline, but it has no program opposing the full range of conditions causing global warming. Opposition to LNG is mute, excepting for the First Nations in the northeast whose lands and waters are being despoiled by fracking. Nor does the movement have any political representation with which to fight for an alternative course. BC Green Party leader Andrew Weaver is giving the NDP government “the benefit of the doubt” on LNG, saying that any LNG project must conform to the claimed “clean growth” [sic] strategy of the government.]
2018 wildfire season in British Columbia smashes record year of 2017. British Columbia Wildfire Service reports that as of September 16, 2018, 1.35 million hectares (3.3 million acres, or 5,000 sq miles) of forest and grassland have burned in BC, setting a new annual record for the province. The previous record was 1.2 million hectares, in 2017. That year’s record beat by a long shot the previous record of 855,000 hectares, in 1958. Together, the past two years have seen some 2.5 per cent of the entire territory of the province burn. Also setting a record in 2018 is the number of wildfires–2,065. Recent rains have all but ended the 2018 fire season. The current wildfire map for British Columbia is here.
Related: The future looks grim after two record years of devastating B.C. wildfires, CBC News, Aug 28, 2018 Scientists say climate change models need to be revised after back-to-back summers of wildfire emergencies. According to Chilliwack fire ecologist Robert Gray, the scale of the wildfire emergencies we’ve lived through in 2017 and 2018 wasn’t expected for decades. “What we thought was going to be an average condition in 2050, we’re starting to see those conditions coming a lot sooner,” Gray told CBC. “There’s been a lot of discussion in the scientific community about really changing what we think the future is going to look like.” …
OECD report criticizes Canada for foreign aid cuts, says Trudeau government’s record is no better than its predecessor, by Mike Blanchfield, The Canadian Press, Sept 14, 2018
… The report is part of the OECD’s rotating five-year review of member countries, and its findings could temper the government’s attempts to lobby for a temporary seat on the United Nations Security Council in the coming years. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland are both bound for the UN General Assembly later this month, where they will ramp up their campaigning for the two-year seat that would start in 2021. Government officials say Canada will be pushing the notion of promoting public-private sector partnerships as a tool for financing foreign aid…
… The report says that the government’s recent new spending of $2 billion over five years on foreign aid simply isn’t enough to restore the spending ratio to 2012 levels — the last time the OECD reviewed Canada’s aid budget and found it lacking.
Crude-by-rail exports surge in Canada as pipeline restraints squeeze oil industry, CBC News, Sept 11, 2018
* Canadian crude oil prices collapse as Alberta glut grows again, Bloomberg News, Sept 6, 2018
* Report on oil-by-rail shipments in Canada, in Globe and Mail, Sept 13, 2018, subscriber only. [From the article: … CN Rail’s crude-by-rail business is up by 50 per cent in the quarter to date and is on pace to reach 70,000 carloads for 2018. CN moved about 60,000 tank cars in 2017, down from the 2014 peak of 120,000. CN and its Calgary-based rival Canadian Pacific Railway have seen a 16-per-cent increase in petroleum carloads in 2018… (One railway crude oil tanker car holds approximately 700 barrels.) ]
The 2004 tweak that accelerated British Columbia’s rent spiral, by Andrew MacLeod, The Tyee, Sept 12, 2018 Rents in British Columbia are nearly 40 per cent higher than they would have been had increases been capped at the rate of inflation for the past 15 years. Instead, rent caps have risen at the rate of inflation plus two per cent each year under a formula the former BC Liberal government set in 2004. The current NDP government — which promised during last year’s campaign to make life more affordable for renters — has so far stuck with the formula, resulting in an allowable rent increase announced Friday for 2019 of 4.5 per cent…
Once pipeline pals, Alberta premier Rachel Notley and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau may be headed for a split, by Gary Mason, columnist, Globe and Mail, Sept 12, 2018
Raging premier of Ontario says he will override court ruling striking down his effort to abolish half of Toronto’s city council seats in mid-election, column by Martin Regg Cohen, Toronto Star, Sept 11, 2018 [Canada has its own Trump-style tinpot dictator in the person of Doug Ford, premier of Ontario. In the absence of a left-wing party, the country is only one federal election away from something similar in Ottawa.]
Decriminalization is one powerful force to ease the overdose crisis, by Andre Picard, health reporter, Globe and Mail, Sept 11, 2018 …Time and time again at the Opioid Symposium [federal government symposium held in Toronto Sept 5 and 6, 2018], the example of Portugal was cited as one for Canada to follow. Again, Minister of Health Ginette Petitpas Taylor cast that idea aside, saying “Portugal and Canada are two very different countries”…
* New data shows nearly 4,000 deaths in Canada in 2017 from opioid poisonings, Canadian Press, June 18, 2018 …The death toll rose to almost 4,000 in 2017 from about 3,000 in 2016. The figures show 72 per cent of apparent opioid-related deaths involved fentanyl or fentanyl analogues, compared to 55 per cent in 2016…
* Opioid-related deaths soar in British Columbia, Alberta, The Globe and Mail, June 18, 2018 …In British Columbia, there were 523 deaths attributed to illegal-drug overdoses (primarily opioids) in 2015. A year later, the number of such deaths rose to 974 and increased further to 1,399 in 2017. In Alberta, there were 443 opioid deaths in 2015. That number rose to 548 in 2016 and 714 in 2017. And in Ontario, more than 1,100 people died from opioid overdoses last year, up from 726 a year earlier…
* Drug overdose deaths in U.S. rose seven per cent in 2017 and doubled over a decade, CDC reports, CNN, Aug 16, 2018 More than 72,000 Americans died of drug overdoses in 2017, up nearly 7% from 2016, according to preliminary data from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The 2017 preliminary death count for all 50 states and the District of Columbia represents a twofold increase over a decade, the Centers for Disease Control reports…
* Addiction crisis forced Portugal to take action, by Daphne Bramham, Vancouver Sun, Sept 11, 2018 (first of a series on Portugal’s decision to decriminalize possession and use of drugs)
How British Columbia’s soaring real estate prices made the rich richer, by Alex Hemingway, The Tyee, Sept 11, 2018 Many of us worry about income inequality in B.C., and so we should. But as bad as income inequality is, wealth inequality is worse. And in our province, that wealth inequality is driven in large part by real estate — who owns it, and who doesn’t…
* How a smart, progressive property tax could ease Vancouver’s housing crisis, by Patrick Condon, The Tyee Sept 6, 2018 Taxing land separately, and progressively, could pay for desperately needed non-market housing
* Vancouver’s high housing growth rate making homes less affordable, by Elizabeth Murphy, Vancouver Sun, Sept 1, 2018 Most new housing construction is unaffordable and involves demolishing older building stock that former occupants could afford but who are then displaced. More new supply doesn’t make things more affordable — quite the opposite.
Drumbeat for regime-change war against the people of Venezuela on Canada’s state-run broadcaster. Canada’s government and state-run broadcaster the CBC are following the lead of Donald Trump and his regime in pressing for a violent overthrow of the socialist government of Venezuela. Here is the first of a series of reports being filed this coming week by one of the CBC‘s leading propagandists (‘journalists’), Adrienne Arsenault: Venezuelan migrants face uncertainty as they flee starvation [sic], CBC News, Sept 10, 2018. Arsenault is interviewed from the Venezuela-Colombia on September 11 on CBC Radio One‘s weekday newsmagazine ‘The Current’. The report is headlined ‘Venezuelans selling their hair to feed their families, says CBC reporter at border’. In it, Arsenault says that Venezuelan migrants are bringing dangerous diseses with them into Colombia.
* Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza says his country will continue to ‘fully collaborate’ with UN Human Rights Council, Telesur, Sept 11, 2018 Speaking to the the 39th session of the United Nations Human Rights Council on September 11, Jorge Arreaza compared the economic blockade to the economic war waged against Chile’s socialist government in the seventies.
* Venezuela Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza: There is no humanitarian crisis in Venezuela, Telesur, Monday, Sept 10, 2018 Venezuelan Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza said Monday that “there is no humanitarian crisis in Venezuela,” but rather an “economic crisis,” as a consequence of the sanctions and the blockade exercised by sectors of the international political right against the South American nation…
Alberta tar sands producer Cenovus inks deal to move more product to U.S. on CN Rail, Reuters, Sept 7, 2018
…Canada’s two national railways were burned a few years ago when booming demand for crude-by-rail vanished as oil prices fell and pipeline space opened. They are now seeking rich, multi-year, take-or-pay deals from producers. The projected 300,000 barrels per day shipments by end-2018 would be 50 percent higher than June 2018’s record 200,000 bpd. It is expected to further increase in 2019 as locomotive orders start to catch up with demand… [Cenovus owns the Bruderheim crude-oil-by-rail loading facility near Edmonton, Alberta. Crude oil production in Alberta in 2018 (in million barrels per day of light-medium oil equivalent) is 1.88 of non-upgraded bitumen, 1.11 of upgraded bitumen and .46 of conventional crude oil. Canada is the fifth largest oil producing country in the world, at approximately 4.6 million barrels per day equivalent in 2016. The U.S. is number one at 14.9 bpd.]
Related: New international shipping rules on sulphur content of fuel will make one fifth of Alberta’s tar sands output uneconomic within two years, report by Jesse Snyder, Financial Post, Sept 7, 2018 [From the article: New regulations by the International Maritime Organization (IMO) aim to dramatically lower sulphur content levels in bunker fuels that propel marine vessels, to 0.5 per cent from 3.5 per cent. The changes come into effect January 2020. As much as 574,000 barrels per day of Alberta tar sands production, roughly 20 per cent of unconventional oil projects, would not be economic under this scenario.]
Leading in polls for Oct 1 election, Quebec’s right-wing CAQ party brandishes anti-immigrant card, news report by CBC News, Sept 7, 2018 [Follow the polls for the Quebec election here at CBC‘s ‘Poll Tracker‘ feature.]
Is this Quebec’s most uninspired election ever?, by Toula Drimonis, National Observer, Sept 4, 2018
Related: Quebec solidaire party promises $15 minimum wage by May, 2019, Global TV News, Sept 3, 2018 [Residents of the province of Quebec will go to the polls in a provincial election on October 1 (Wikipedia). Media in English-speaking Canada, including ‘alternative’ media, is reporting next to nothing on the election, highlighting the political chasm that exists between Quebec and English-speaking Canada, including on the political left. In election polling, the soft-left Québec solidaire party holds eight per cent of the vote. The party is completely unknown in English-speaking Canada and has no counterpart there. The anti-immigrant Coalition avenir Quebec is leading the election polls.]
As the NDP’s fortunes slide, party leader Jagmeet Singh battles to stay on top, by Chantal Hébert, columnist, Toronto Star, Sept. 7, 2018 [Columnist Chantal Hebert totally misses key elements of the political challenge facing the soft-left New Democratic Party. The NDP has nothing to say by way of alternative to Canada’s imperialist military adventures abroad and it has no coherent answers to what to do in the face of the global warming emergency. Replacing Jagmeet Singh with a different party leader, as the Star columnist muses, will do nothing to resolve this political dilemma for the NDP.]
Canada and British Columbia governments commit $3 billion for rail transit expansion in Vancouver region, CBC News, Sept 4, 2018 [Two rail-rapid transit projects in Vancouver region—a six-kilometer, underground extension of the ‘Skytrain’ network westwards towards the University of British Columbia and a light-rail project in the suburb of Surrey–will further fuel the out-of-control urban sprawl in Vancouver region. Contrary to the claims of liberal environmentalists, there is nothing ‘environmental’ about public transit if it merely serves the expansionist appetites of the construction industry and the truck-auto roads and highways nexus. A world of ‘drawdown’ (degrowth) from all the excess of capitalist society will put an end to urban sprawl, including the phenomenon of commuting over vast distances in order to earn a living. ‘Public transit’ will then serve social needs, not capitlist expansion. The initial, estimated cost of the Skytrain extension towards UBC (sure to balloon) is $500 million–per kilometer. A projected underground extension of the line all the way to UBC would cost at least $4 billion. By comparison, the public-private ‘Canada Line’ linking the Vancouver airport to downtown completed in time for the 2010 Winter Olympics cost about $100 million per kilometer, while the 11 km, suburban ‘Evergreen Line’ completed in 2016 cost $130 million per kilometre.]
Related: Costs soar for planned Broadway Ave rail transit expansion in Vancouver but public kept in the dark, by Vaughn Palmer, columnist, Vancouver Sun,Sept 5, 2018 The NDP government in Victoria commissioned a detailed budget for the Broadway Ave extension of Skytrain, vetted the numbers, and knows what each component is expected to cost. It just isn’t telling the taxpaying public anything about it.
‘Vietnam-like quagmire’: Months of work ahead as Liberal gov’t in Ottawa plans to get Trans Mountain tar sands pipeline back on track, by Geoffrey Morgan, Financial Post, Sept 4, 2018 [Unlike the earlier ‘Northern Gateway’ pipeline cancelled in 2016 by the newly-elected Liberal Party government, there will be no throwing in of the towel over Trasn Mountain. ‘Global warming emergency be damned.’]
Canada’s low-wage economy is slowing the capitalist expansion cycle, report by Kevin Carmichael, columnist, in Financial Post, Sept 4, 2018 [The Financial Post reports, “A new report from Business Development Canada (BDC) finds that about 40 per cent of the country’s smaller companies are struggling to find workers.” But it doesn’t mention the top reason why this is the case—low wages, especially poverty-level official minimum wages, which hover around $11 per hour in most provinces and reach $14 in only one province, Ontario.]
Threatened with extinction, Pacific northwest Orca whales are at the center of dispute over Trans Mountain tar sands pipeline, by Wendy Stueck, Globe and Mail, Sept 3, 2018
… “This decision… means we hold the line on the conditions within the Salish Sea not getting worse,” said Misty MacDuffee, a biologist with Raincoast Conservation Foundation.
Raincoast and Living Oceans Society were joint applicants in a consolidated legal challenge to Ottawa’s approval in 2016 of the proposed Trans Mountain pipeline expansion. On Aug. 30, the Federal Court of Appeal quashed Ottawa’s approval of the project, citing shortcomings in the government’s duty to consult with First Nations and a decision by the National Energy Board to exclude project-related tanker traffic from its review.
U.S.-Canada trade talks end in deadlock, to resume next week, Deutsche Welle, Sept 1, 2018
* Denting supply management in NAFTA deal would be ‘devastating’ say dairy farmers in Canada, by Christopher Reynolds, The Canadian Press, Aug 30, 2018
* Dairy farmers in British Columbia on edge as U.S. targets supply management in stalled NAFTA talks, by Simon Little and Jill Bennett, Global News, Aug 31, 2018
Canada newsroll on A Socialist In Canada, August 2018
Trans Mountain pipeline expansion project presented with ‘rescue plan’, by Vaughn Palmer, columnist, Vancouver Sun, Aug 31, 2018 Far from issuing a death warrant for the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion, the Federal Court of Appeal decision rendered on August 30 wrapped up a lengthy judgment with suggestions on how Ottawa could save the controversial project. Through more than 250 pages and almost 800 clauses, Justice Eleanor Dawson — who wrote the decision — weighed myriad objections raised by myriad opponents. Most she rejected…
[Corporate media reports on the proposed Trans Mountain tar sands pipeline expansion are full of doom and gloom, claiming the decision is a terrible blow to the fossil-fuel soaked economies of Canada and Alberta. In a print editorial published on September 1, the national daily Globe and Mail goes so far as to call the Trans Mountain expansion the “people’s pipeline”! But all this and more is nonsense. Yes, the court decision is a blow to an overarching feature of the Canadian economy, that being natural resource plunder–fossil fuels, minerals, trees, fish and arable land. The court decision will help to open the eyes of more Canadians to the destructive folly of such endeavour. Let us hope it leads the bulk of the citizenry to embrace the two socio-economic imperatives of our times–leave fossil fuels in the ground, and carry out a massive reduction/retrenchment of all the waste, excess and plunder characteristic of (expansionist) capitalism. IF these imperatives are implemented, humanity has a good chance at mitigating the worst of what capitalist-induced global warming has in store for the fate of human civilization.]
Federal Court of Appeal quashes construction approvals for Trans Mountain Pipeline, leaving project in limbo, CBC News Aug 30, 2018. …The court found that the National Energy Board’s assessment of the project was so flawed that it should not have been relied on by the federal cabinet when it gave its final approval to proceed in November 2016. The certificate approving construction and operation of the project has been nullified, leaving the project hanging in a legal limbo until the energy regulator and the government reassess their approvals to satisfy the court’s demands. In effect, the court has halted construction of the 1,150-kilometre project indefinitely…
[Two issues underlay the Federal Court of Appeals decision: inadequate consideration of the environmental impact on ocean waters of greatly increased oil tanker traffic related to a Trans Mountain expansion (notably to the endangered Orca whale population), and inadequate consultation with First Nations peoples whose territories are affected by the pipeline and its marine export route. The Canadian government undertook purchase (nationalization) of the existing Trans Mountain Pipeline in May 2018 for $4.5 billion after Kinder Morgan Corporation announced it could not abide by the uncertainties surrounding regulatory approval of the project. The Canadian and Alberta governments say the pipeline expansion will be built come hell or high water, but while the federal government may seek appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada, some analysts say it is not clear if the Court would accept to hear an appeal. The proposed Trans Mountain expansion appears to be a clear-cut case of government and industry negligence in failing to heed the court decisions that led to the cancellation in 2016 of a similar tar sands pipeline project, Northern Gateway.]
* Excerpts from the Federal Court of Appeal rejection of Trans Mountain bitumen pipeline approval, published in The Tyee, Aug 31, 2018
* Leave fossil fuels in the ground? Not according to the leader of Canada’s Green Party. She supports tar sands production and proposed more gov’t subsidies. Statement by Elizabeth May, April 25, 2018 … ‘Here’s a solution: cap oilsands [sic] emissions at 70 megatonnnes/year and create jobs in Alberta by providing federal assistance to build upgraders and refineries.’ [Current tar sands emissions (extraction only, not including from burning) are approximately 70 megatonnes per year.]
Ontario Premier Doug Ford picks up class war where former premier Mike Harris left off, by Linda McQuaig, columnist, Toronto Star, Aug. 30, 2018
Canada reaches $5-million settlement with descendants of Inuit people subjected to genocidal treatment during the 1940s and 1950s report by Tyler Dawson, in National Post, Aug 27, 2018 The story of the genocidal treatment of the Ahiarmiut (Ilhalmiut) people by the Canadian government and military following World War Two in what is now the territory of Nunavut in northern Canada was immortalized by Farley Mowat in his books People Of The Deer (1952) and The Desperate People (1959). The Ahiarmiut were callously used as tools to assert Canadian sovereignty in the Arctic region. Mowat was sharply denounced by the Canadian establishment when People Of The Deer appeared. They said his story was fabricated or otherwise unproven. Mowat, a WW2 veteran, was threatened with legal action by the Hudson’s Bay Company and his professional career as a writer at the time suffered considerably.]
Trump announces U.S.-Mexico trade deal to replace NAFTA, and says ‘we will see’ if Canada can join, CBC News, Aug 27, 2018
* Preliminary U.S.-Mexico trade deal leaves trail of questions unanswered for Canada, CBC News, Aug 28, 2018
* ‘Take it or leave it’: Trump signals hard line as NAFTA talks turn to Canada, by Naomi Powell, Financial Post, Aug 27, 2018 Is Canada we facing a worsening bilateral arrangement with the U.S.?
* Trump’s Mexico trade deal looks like a lemon, by David Fickling and Anjani Trivedi, Bloomberg News, Aug 28, 2018
New Democratic Party leader Jagmeet Singh praises U.S. Senator and war criminal John McCain, on Twitter, Aug 26, 2018: “Senator John McCain had the courage not to stoop to divisive politics. He showed us that we can disagree in a way that creates dialogue and discussion, not fear and division. Rest in peace.”
* Bernie Sanders on the death of Senator John McCain, on Twitter, Aug 25, 2018: “John McCain was an American hero, a man of decency and honor and a friend of mine. He will be missed not just in the U.S. Senate but by all Americans who respect integrity and independence. Jane and I send our deepest condolences to his family.”
* John McCain: Not ‘war hero’ but war criminal, by Max Blumenthal, special to Consortium News, Aug 27, 2018 If the paeans to McCain by diverse political climbers seems detached from reality, it’s because they reflect the elite view of U.S. military interventions as a chess game, with the millions killed by unprovoked aggression mere statistics.
B.C.’s wildfire season now 2nd-worst on record — behind only last year, CBC News, Aug 26, 2018 More than 970,000 hectares have burned since April 1, 2018 in a new record number 1,997 fires. Nearly 5,000 people have been forced from their homes due to wildfire as of August 23 while another 22,000 were under evacuation alerts.
The benefits to raising Ontario’s minimum wage are tangible, by David Olive, business columnist, Toronto Star, Aug. 25, 2018
… Increasing the minimum wage is one of the most effective means we have of assisting the economically disadvantaged. It puts a new, higher floor under all wages, including those earned by millions of Ontarians living just above the poverty line. The benefits are tangible: higher household incomes; increased consumer spending; lower workplace turnover and absenteeism.
The few studies claiming to show job loss from minimum wage increases have been debunked. A recent example is a discredited 2017 study “proving” job loss from Seattle’s drive toward a $15 minimum wage. Actually, job creation has been strong in the Seattle region since 2011. “If this is what the nasty effects of aggressive minimum wage rises look like,” Financial Times economics columnist Martin Sandbu wrote, “they are rather an encouragement to do more and more widely.”
… To cite only a handful of the alarmists, the Bank of Canada, TD Bank, National Bank Financial and the Financial Accountability Office (FAO), the Ontario government watchdog, all predicted that Ontario would lose between 50,000 and 140,000 jobs because of the new $14 minimum wage. As it happens, though, Ontario has gained so many jobs since Jan. 1 that by August, the Ontario jobless rate had dropped to an 18-year low, of 5.4 per cent, second-lowest in the country after B.C.
[The new, right-wing government elected in Ontario on June 7 has cancelled the planned rise of the minimum wage in Ontario from $14 to $15 on January 1, 2019. It says that rises will henceforth be limited to matching the rate of inflation. This is what happens when instead of educating and mobilizing popular opinion, unions rely excessively on election promises to (maybe) win improvements to the minimum wage, social welfare rates and other social benefits.]
Toronto’s 67th homicide this year surpasses the total for 2017, Toronto Star, Friday, Aug 24, 2018 … With 67 confirmed homicides as of Friday, Toronto has also had more homicides by this date than in any year since 2004, according to police data. The next highest year-to-date total came in 2007, which saw 56 homicides in Toronto by Aug 24. That year ended with the highest homicide total in the last 15 years, at 86. So far, 2018 has also seen a higher rate of gun deaths in Toronto than any year since 2004: 34 as of Friday. The number of shootings overall in the city, as measured by both occurrences and victims, is similar to the total by this date in both of the last two years, according to police data…
Protest in Nanaimo accuses Trudeau of fiddling on pipeline while climate change burns B.C., The Canadian Press, Aug 22, 2018 [Not mentioned in this news report is that while BC Premier John Horgan and his NDP government continue to posture opposition to the Trans Mountain tar sands pipeline, in the northeast of the province they are overseeing expanded natural gas fracking and construction of the more-than-$10 billion ‘Site C’ hydroelectric dam on the Peace River. Both projects will sell their dirty project to tar sands extraction projects in neighbouring Alberta.]
While the planet burns, our politicians fiddle, by Gary Mason, conservative columnist at Globe and Mail, Aug 21, 2018 … Amid this potential calamity of a warming world, you would think the world’s leaders would have been shaken into action. Instead, industrial CO2 emissions grew to record levels last year. The climate accord reached in Paris two years ago now doesn’t seem to be worth the paper it was written on… We have to have the moral conviction to address this problem before it’s too late – if it’s not already. [End column.]
Montreal city council unanimously adopts hand gun ban motion, seeks national ban, The Canadian Press, Aug 20, 2018 (and report in Globe and Mail, Aug 21, 2018) The vote by Montreal city council follows the 41-4 vote by Toronto city council on July 24 asking the federal gov’t to restrict the sale of handguns and assault rifles on the city’s territory.
* Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale is asked his view of banning handguns and assault weapons, interview with Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale, broadcast on CBC Radio One’s ‘Early Edition’ (Vancouver), Aug 21, 2018 (interview begins at two-hour, 31-minute mark) ‘We’ve undertaken to listen very carefully from the point of view of fairness and effectiveness… A handgun is already in a very restricted category…’
* New commissioner of Canada’s federal police force says ‘no’ to handgun ban, interview with RCMP Commissioner Brenda Lucki, broadcast on CBC Radio One‘s weekly interview program ‘The House’, Aug 18, 2018 (first item at the weblink) “I’m not sure if a complete ban is the answer. Or tweaking the legislation to ensure more accountability–that’s definitely something we need to study.” [The bulk of the interview with Brenda Lucki addresses the tsunami of sexual harassment and assault complaints and lawsuits against the RCMP by past and present female officers.] * A defence lawyer’s take on how to stop criminals getting handguns, op-ed commentary by Reid Rusonik, published in Toronto Star, Aug 19, 2018 Legal possession of handguns in Canada is a big part of what is killing people (Reid Rusonik is a criminal lawyer in Toronto.)
* Right-wing Ontario premier opposes any ban on handguns, Toronto Star, Aug 9, 2018
* NDP leader Jagmeet Singh takes a pass on calling to ban handguns, says city governments should decide, by Teresa Wright, The Globe and Mail, Aug 2, 2018
* Bill Blair, Minister of Border Security and Organized Crime Reduction, twice dodges journalist’s question: ‘Why does someone need to legally own a handgun in Canada?’, interview with Bill Blair, broadcast on the state-run CBC Radio One‘s weekday newsmagazine program ‘The Current’, July 25, 2018 (first item at the weblink, 12 minute interview) [Pressed further about a ban on handguns, Bill Blair replied that what is needed is “to make sure that [legally purchased] guns do not end up in the hands of criminals”.]
‘Stress is huge’: New Zealand’s foreign buyers ban brings home scale of crisis, by Eleanor Ainge, The Guardian, Aug 17, 2018
Related: There’s no need for New Zealand-style xenophobia to curb UK house prices, by Guy Shrubsole, The Guardian, Aug 16, 2018 (Guy Shrubsole publishes the blog Who Owns England. His Guardian commentary does not appear on his blog.)
Most Canada Revenue Agency auditors polled say Canada’s tax system is skewed to protect the wealthy, CBC News, Aug 17, 2018
RCMP move in to break up peaceful, anti-Trans Mountain Pipeline protest camp at Vancouver harbour, CBC News, Aug 16, 2018 Police have declared an ‘exclusion zone’ surrounding ‘Camp Cloud’ and are barring media from it
Related: Vancouver City council candidate Jean Swanson receives seven-day sentence for Kinder Morgan (Trans Mountain Pipeline) protest, by Behdad Mahichi, Vancouver Sun, Aug 15, 2018 Activist Jean Swanson, who is running for Vancouver city council, is among those being sentenced Wednesday morning [August 15] for a blockade of a Kinder Morgan facility [pipeline from Alberta to small refinery and export terminal at Burnaby BC (Vancouver region harbor) ].
Two high-profile Vancouverites were led off to jail on August 15, sentenced to seven days in jail for defying an injunction by protesting at a Kinder Morgan property in Burnaby on June 30 of this year. Jean Swanson, a candidate for Vancouver city council, and Susan Lambert, a former president of the B.C. Teachers’ Federation, were among seven people who appeared before Justice Kenneth Affleck of the B.C. Supreme Court. All seven pleaded guilty to contempt of court for blocking construction, were sentenced to seven days behind bars and were taken straight to jail.
Swanson, speaking outside court before the proceeding, said she was “dressed for shackles” and doesn’t fear jail time. “We’re just going to have to keep doing this to stop the pipeline, it’s insane.” …
Despite the feud, Canada remains complicit in Saudi Arabia’s abuses, by Davide Mastracci, blogs associate editor, HuffPost Canada, Aug 15, 2018 Canada shouldn’t be seen as a country daring to take the first step against Saudi Arabia, but rather as a bully’s friend who said the wrong thing.
Another record forest fire year shaping up in British Columbia, from news reports, including report in Vancouver Sun, Aug 13, 2018
[For the second year in a row, August has brought skies filled with forest fire smoke to northwestern North America, including the cities of Vancouver BC, Seattle, Calgary and Edmonton. Public health authorities have issued respiratory health warnings. In the city of Prince George in north-central BC (pop 80,000), air quality advisories have been in place for three weeks.
[This year’s fire season is now the third worst on record in British Columbia since 1950. Fires have burned some 5,800 square kilometres, 70 per cent of that in northern B.C. As of mid-August 2018, the British Columbia Wildfire Service had responded to 1,785 wildfires since April 1, higher than the 10-year average of 1,216 fires. As of August 17, fires have burned some 5,800 square kilometres, 70 per cent of that in northern B.C. The year 2017 set a forest fire record in British Columbia with more than 11,700 square kilometers (1.17 million hectares/452,000 square miles) burned. The previous record was in 1958 with 8,580 square kilometers burned.]
Background on record 2017 forest fires in BC and North America: Smoke over the skies of North America is another climate change warning, by Roger Annis, A Socialist In Canada, Aug 15, 2017 (with postcripts, as well as updates on Sept 16, 2017)
Majority of Canadian cities don’t monitor sewage leaks into lakes, rivers, by Mia Rabson, The Canadian Press, Aug 14, 2018 [See extensive reporting below on August 7, 2018 rainstorm in Toronto that overwhelmed the city’s sewage disposal apparatus.]
Last Wednesday, August 8, a team of people from the Lake Ontario Waterkeeper environmental group descended on the Toronto harbourfront looking for any signs the previous night’s massive, flash-flood rainfall had caused the city’s ancient combined sewer system to overflow into the lake.
They didn’t need to dip a single test tube into the water to know it had. There, in plain sight and floating around the docks and pedestrian bridges along the waterfront of Canada’s biggest city, was a toxic stew of used condoms, plastic tampon applicators and mounds of shredded toilet paper, along with a countless quantity of other, unidentifiable solids. When water testing was done, the levels of bacteria “were off the charts”…
Employment boom in Canadian province of Ontario defies minimum wage naysayers, by Greg Quinn, Bloomberg News, Aug 12, 2018 [The new, right-wing premier of Ontario Doug Ford has frozen the minimum wage at $14 per hour, the highest rate in Canada. He says any future increases will be limited to inflation adjustment. Meanwhile, New Zealand is moving from the current $16.50 per hour to $20 per hour by April 2021 and Australia’s rate is even higher. The average wage in Canada in 2018 is $28.76. The NDP government in the province of Alberta has promised a minimum wage of $15 per hour by October 1, 2018. Unlike in Ontario, the government has not made a $15 rate conditional on re-election; the next election in Alberta is set for May 31, 2019. ]
Liberal image of Canada’s government gets snared by its approval of $11.5bn Saudi arms deal, op-ed commentary by Finian Cunningham, RT, Aug 9, 2018 A dramatic diplomatic spat with Saudi Arabia has forced Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to enter the public fray in a bid to calm tempers. But what’s bothering Canada is the possible loss of a major Saudi arms contract worth billions…
* Fifty dead, mostly children, in Saudi aerial bombing of school bus in Yemen, RT, Aug 9, 2018 (and report by Reuters, Aug 9, 2018) [The attack took place on August 9 against the Dahyan market in Saada province, controlled by the Houthi- movement led governing coalition in Yemen. The province lies along the border with Saudi Arabia. The bus was ferrying local civilians, including many children.] * The blowup with Canada is the latest Saudi overreach. Will they ever pay a price?, by Mehdi Hasan, The Intercept, Aug 7 2018
* Spat with Saudis hits home for armoured vehicle plant in southwestern Ontario, by Andy Blatchford, The Canadian Press, Aug 7, 2018
* Business and union (Unifor) leaders in London, Ontario defend Saudi arms deal as integral to region’s economy, report in Globe and Mail, Jan 7, 2016
Right-wing Ontario premier opposes any ban on handguns, Toronto Star, Aug 9, 2018
* NDP leader Jagmeet Singh takes a pass on banning handguns, says city governments should decide, by Teresa Wright, The Globe and Mail, Aug 2, 2018
* One year after deadly, white supremacist gathering in Charlottesville, Virginia, no restrictions on right-wing extremists carrying weapons at political rallies, by Ian Millhiser, Think Progress, Aug 9, 2018
August 7 flash flooding creates sickening mess in Toronto Harbour, water-monitoring group says, by Gilbert Ngabo, Toronto Star, Aug. 9, 2018 Tuesday’s rare flash flood spilled a huge amount of raw sewage into Lake Ontario, leaving a repulsive, potentially sickening mess the Star saw first-hand on Thursday…
* Toronto infrastructure overwhelmed by two-hour rainstorm, by Tamar Harris, Gilbert Ngabo and Jennifer Pagliaro, Toronto Star, Aug. 8, 2018 The storm dropped 72 millimeters of rain on Toronto on August 7, short of the record 97mm [126 mm at Toronto airport] that fell in July 2013 [ more than the 121 mm that Hurricane Hazel dropped in Oct 1954]. (See related readings included in the posting of this item to ‘Ecology newsroll’ on A Socialist In Canada.)
… Toronto’s infrastructure was not designed to handle weather events like Tuesday’s storm, said urban planner Ken Greenberg. “When you have 60, 70 or 80 millimetres of rain in two hours, it simply overwhelms not only the sewers but also affects the skin of buildings, elevators and underpasses.”
As the city grows, more surfaces become concrete and impermeable, he said. That pushes stormwater into sewer systems rather than being gradually absorbed into the ground. As events like Tuesday’s storm become more frequent, “it’s dawning on us” that existing city standards did not anticipate the level of stress that climate change is bringing, he said, adding that it’s “maddening” to see the reluctance of elected officials, who still don’t want to take climate change seriously…
* As storms get worse, fight over Toronto flood-proofing rages, by David Rider and Samantha Beattie, Toronto Star, Aug. 9, 2018
British Columbia’s giveaway of natural gas fuels Alberta’s tar sands, by Ben Parfitt, The Tyee, Aug 8, 2018 BC gov’t subsidies and lax rules provide the vital resource that keeps the Alberta bitumen flowing. (Ben Parfitt is a resource policy analyst with the B.C. Office of the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives. His recent research for the CCPA is published here.)
Kinder Morgan just told its shareholders how it persuaded the Trudeau government to pay billions for a pipeline no one else wanted to buy, investigative report by Mike De Souza, National Observer, Aug 8, 2018
Doug Ford is Justin Trudeau’s perfect climate change foil, by Thomas Walkom, national affairs columnist, Toronto Star, Aug. 6, 2018 Justin Trudeau should get down on his knees and thank the fates for electing Doug Ford. Before Ford became Ontario premier, Trudeau was in danger of being outed as a fraud on the all-important climate change file. But Ford is such a laggard in this area that no matter how little the Liberal prime minister does, he seems active by comparison…
Why do liberals and the progressive left in Canada align themselves with Bernie Farber?, by Yves Engler, Rabble.ca, Aug 2, 2018
Researchers find Vancouver, Victoria shorelines littered with cigarette butts, which are made of plastic, Canadian Press, Aug 2, 2018 Cigarettes and their filters made from plastic account for almost 50 per cent of the waste collected along the Vancouver and Victoria shorelines, says a study analyzing data from volunteer coastline cleanups in British Columbia…
* Beaches in ‘green’ Vancouver closed due to fecal coliform, CKNW News, Aug 1, 2018
* Toronto’s Don River is a source of plastic pollution into Lake Ontario, report by Ocean Conservancy, Aug 2, 2018 The University of Toronto’s Trash Team was curious just how much plastic makes its way from the Don River into Lake Ontario, and what kind.
* Garbage audit of Toronto’s Don River, interview with Chelsea Rochman on CBC Radio One, Aug 1, 2018
Ontario’s renewed war on the poor, by Thomas Walkom, columnist, Toronto Star, Aug 2, 2018
Vancouver’s homes may be costly to buy, but they’re cheap to own, Financial Post, Aug 2, 2018 The owner of a $1 million home in the Pacific Coast city will pay just $2,468 a year in property tax, compared with $6,355 in Toronto or more than $10,000 in Ottawa, according to a new study by real estate website Zoocasa that looked at rates in 25 major Canadian markets. “If I was somebody who wanted to park cash somewhere and just wanted low carrying costs, Vancouver has historically been a great place,” said Thomas Davidoff, a housing economist at the University of British Columbia’s Sauder School of Business. “We are a ridiculous outlier. We’re off-the-charts low”…
Related: Low property taxes help fuel Vancouver’s housing crisis, by Alex Hemingway, Canadian Center for Policy Alternatives, June 4, 2018
Real estate industry and casinos are awash in money laundering crime in British Columbia, report by Gordon Hoekstra, Vancouver Sun, July 31, 2018 [The heat is on as longstnading ties between organized crime and the real estate and gambling industries in British Columbia are exposed. Police and government officials are pretending to be concerned and promise to ‘do something’ about it.]
… According to figures obtained by Postmedia News and reported on July 30, Canada’s financial intelligence watchdog found “significant” and “very significant” deficiencies in the money-laundering controls at 88 per cent of 130 real estate entities they examined in B.C. over the last two years.
The finding was similar to one made two years earlier [emphasis added] when the watchdog, the Financial Transactions and Reports Analysis Centre of Canada or Fintrac, conducted 79 examinations in B.C.’s real estate sector, uncovering 71 companies — or 89 per cent — with “significant or very significant” deficiencies.
Are asylum seekers crossing into Canada illegally? A look at facts behind the controversy, feature article by Tavia Grant, Globe and Mail, Aug 1, 2018
… Since the beginning of 2017, more than 31,000 people have crossed into Canada [from the U.S. by land outside of official border crossings]. Their arrival corresponds with the election of U.S. President Donald Trump, whose approach to refugees differs markedly from Canada’s. Under the Canada-U.S. Safe Third Country Agreement, refugee claimants who first arrive in the United States and then seek entry to Canada will likely be denied. A growing chorus of Canadians are calling for the suspension of the agreement, which they say would diminish the need to cross at unofficial border points.
… Globally, the refugee population rose to 25.4 million at the end of last year, the highest level since at least the Second World War, according to the UN refugee agency. About half of this population comprise of children. The number of people who became refugees last year grew by about 2.9 million people, the biggest annual increase on record.
Canada received about 50,000 refugee claimants last year. Though that is about double 2016 levels, by way of context, “this is literally one day in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh, during the peak of the Rohingya crisis,” said the UNHCR’s Canada representative Jean-Nicolas Beuze… Legal experts say Canada’s immigration laws are clear: “They’re not illegal border crossers,” said James Hathaway, founding director of the University of Michigan’s program in refugee and asylum law, who is Canadian, and a leading global authority on refugee law.
… Illegal entry is not an offence in Canada’s Criminal Code. But the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations 27 (2) says anyone who does not enter at a port of entry must check in “without delay” at a border point.
… Government of Canada signs at unofficial border crossings say it is illegal to cross the border here. This, said Prof. Macklin, refers to the Customs Act, not the IRPA. The Customs Act stipulates that everyone arriving in Canada enter only at a customs office. This act, however, is intended for regulating imported goods, and for those who cross-border shop, not for asylum seekers. Three experts in refugee law told The Globe and Mail they are not aware of any time that refugee claimants who crossed at unofficial crossings have been charged with violating this act. The blanket term “illegal border crossers” is “inaccurate and misleading,” said Prof. Macklin…
Liberal gov’t in Ottawa plans to soften carbon tax plan responding to industry concerns, CBC News, Aug 1, 2018 … Back in January, Environment Minister Catherine McKenna set the benchmark at 70 per cent of an industry’s average emissions performance, meaning companies would have to pay a tax on 30 per cent of their emissions. McKenna’s office confirmed to CBC News that they’ve adjusted the proposal to set the benchmark at 80 per cent — and 90 per cent for specific industries — so large polluters would only pay tax on 10 to 20 per cent of their emissions output…
Analysis shows Canada’s 87 richest families now hold as much wealth as 12 million lowest-income Canadians, by Julia Conley, staff writer, Common Dreams, July 31, 2018 The Canadian Center for Policy Alternatives has revealed in a new report (29 pages) that the nation’s 87 richest families hold an average of $3 billion in wealth—about as much as the 12 million lowest-income Canadians, or a third of the population, combined…
Oil-by-rail reaches record levels in May — on track to rise higher still amid industry complaints of pipeline crunch, by Geoffrey Morgan, Financial Post, July 30, 2018 The dramatic increase has come as new pipelines have been delayed and operators are rationing space on existing pipelines
Following gun rampage in Toronto on July 22 that killed two, injured 13, U.S.-backed government in Ottawa responds to pressure to control handgun ownership by saying it will ‘study’ the matter, report by Reuters, July 30, 2018 (and see report in Globe and Mail, July 30, 2018)
* Woman and girl dead, 13 other people injured in shooting in east-end Toronto, report on CBC News, July 22, 2018
* What are Canada’s handgun laws?, VICE News, July 23, 2018 A gunman used a handgun to carry out a mass shooting in Toronto on the evening of July 22, prompting calls for more gun control. [According to the RCMP, there were 288,165 restricted firearms owners in Canada as of June 30, 2018 and 839,295 restricted firearms registered to individuals or businesses in Canada in 2016.] * The rules surrounding handguns in Canada, by Alex Ballingall, Toronto Star, July 24, 2018
* Toronto city council votes 41 to 4 to urge upper levels of government to ban sale of guns, ammunition locally, Global News, July 25, 2018 … There were 29 fatal shootings and 228 shooting incidents between Jan 1, 2018 and Monday, July 23, according to the most recent Toronto police shooting statistics. During that same period in 2017, 17 people were killed by guns and there were 205 incidents.
* Bill Blair, Minister of Border Security and Organized Crime Reduction, twice dodges journalist’s question: ‘Why does someone need to legally own a handgun in Canada?’, interview with Bill Blair, broadcast on the state-run CBC Radio One‘s weekday newsmagazine program ‘The Current’, July 25, 2018 (first item at the weblink, 12 minute interview) [Pressed further about a ban on handguns, Bill Blair replied that what is needed is “to make sure that [legally purchased] guns do not end up in the hands of criminals”.]
Canada’s soft-left Rabble.ca website features Russia conspiracy blog. Donald Trump is neck deep in Putin’s swamp, by Penney Kome, blogger at Rabble.ca, July 27, 2018 (Penney Kome is a former editor of Straight Goods, which merged with Rabble.ca in 2013.)
… No matter who initiated the relationship, says the activist organization Avaaz, “It’s now shockingly clear that Donald Trump is Putin’s poodle.”
… Putin is rumoured to be the richest man in the world, with $200 billion — a factor [Donald Trump] No. 45 no doubt admires.
Canada’s ‘feminist’ Prime Minister Trudeau abuses the concerns of Canadian women and ignores their safety, by Matthew Behrens, published in his blog on Rabble.ca, July 26, 2018
Related: There’s a better way to help families than the Canada Childcare Benefit. It’s called low-cost daycare, by Kevin Carmichael, National Post, July 24, 2018 … Just as the federal government has previously advertised the awesomeness of the Canada Childcare Benefit, I have at other times argued for a national commitment to subsidized child care. Unlike Trudeau and his cabinet, I have some legitimately new material with which to work. The power of this policy is now undeniable, thanks to new research from Statistics Canada…
Uproar in Nova Scotia over plan to dump pulp effluent into Northumberland Strait, feature essay by Joan Baxter, published in The National Observer, July 25, 2018 (Joan Baxter is the author of the 2018 book The Mill: Fifty Years of Pulp and Protest. It tells the story of 50 years of citizen resistance to the poisoning of the air, water and land by the succession of corporate owners of the ‘Northern Pulp’ pulp mill located in Pictou County, Nova Scotia.)
Related: Huge march in Pictou, Nova Scotia to protest effluent dumping plan by Northern Pulp, uphold First Nations sovereignty, CBC News, July 6, 2018 (and, news report in Globe and Mail, July 6, 2018) Protesters traveled from the provinces of Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island to stop the planned dumping of pulp mill effluent into the Northumberland Strait.
As Assembly of First Nations chiefs gather to elect a new grand chief, AFN National Youth Council calls for executive and chiefs to take stand against Trans Mountain tar sands pipeline, press release by Assembly of First Nations National Youth Council, July 25, 2018 (and news report here on CBC News, July 25, 2018)
13,768 charged with cannabis possession in Canada in 2017 despite moves to controlled legalization, report by Travis Lupick, in Georgia Straight, July 23, 2018 [The Canadian government is moving to a regime of strictly controlled legalization of marijuana, but it is refusing to commit to lifting criminal records of past convictions for simple possession and it is refusing to legalize [bring drug addiction and abuse under the umbrella of the state-run health care regime] the hard drugs that are killing thousands of Canadians each year.]
Hassan Diab to boycott external review of his 2014 extradition from Canada to France, CBC News, July 24, 2018 Hassan Diab’s lawyer says his client will boycott a Canadian government-ordered review of his extradition to France in 2014, arguing the scope of the review is too narrow and appears to be nothing more than a “concerted damage-control effort”… Diab, 64, was extradited to France in 2014 in connection with a 1980 bombing outside a Paris synagogue that killed four and injured dozens. He spent more than three years in near-solitary confinement while France investigated his alleged involvement in the terror attack. He was never charged and was returned to Canada in January 2018 after French judges dropped his case for lack of evidence…
Vancouver has biggest gap between home prices and incomes in North America, by Jen St. Denis, StarMetro Vancouver, July 13, 2018
Southern California home sales crash, a warning sign to the entire U.S., CNBC, July 24, 2018 Sales of both new and existing houses and condominiums dropped 11.8 percent year over year, as prices shot up to a record high, according to CoreLogic.
Students, parents and activists rally in Toronto against sex education curriculum rollback by new right-wing gov’t in Ontario, by Megan Ogilvie, Toronto Star, July 21, 2018 …Organized by high school students, the rally — dubbed March for Our Education — comes just weeks after Ford followed through on a campaign promise to repeal the 2015 sexual education syllabus, long opposed by social conservatives. The Progressive Conservatives have since faced heated criticism for replacing the curriculum with one from 1998, which predates same-sex marriage, the age of cyberbullying and emoji-fuelled sexting.
Related: Conservative Party government in Ontario has no price tag or timetable for sex education curriculum reversion in schools, by Robert Benzie, Queen’s Park Bureau Chief, Toronto Star, July 21, 2018
Canada’s new minister of ‘border security and organized crime reduction’ and refugee claimants at the border of Trump’s U.S., by Nora Loreto, National Observer, July 20 2018 [Former Toronto police chief Bill Blair has been appointed the first minister of the newly-created federal ‘ministry of border security and organized crime reduction’. Blair was in charge of the police riot against protesters at the June 2010 G7 meeting in that city. Nearly 1,000 protesters were arrested and many more were detained (‘kettled’) on Toronto streets.]
* Does Canada have a refugee crisis? No, op-ed commentary by Jean-Nicolas Beuze, Toronto Star, July 17, 2018 (Jean-Nicolas Beuze, is the representative to Canada of the United Nations High Commission on Refugees (UNHCR))
* Related: Does Canada have a refugee crisis? Yes, op-ed commentary by Brian Lee Crowley, Toronto Star, July 17, 2018 (Brian Lee Crowley is managing director of the MacDonald Laurier Institute in Ottawa.)
For rural and northern British Columbia, no Greyhound bus means no options, by Cherise Seucharan, Star Metro Vancouver, July 19, 2018
[As the planet heats up, Canada is losing its inter-city bus services, threatening the health and safety of working class people who need to travel safely to get to work, access health care, shop or visit friends and family. Greyhound Bus has announced it will end all service in western Canada as of October 2018. This comes decades after Canada’s inter-city rail service withered away. Outside the Quebec City-to-Windsor, Ontario corridor, there is no inter-city rail service in Canada to speak of. Passenger numbers on VIA Rail have stagnated for decades at around four million trips per year. The three Maritime provinces in eastern Canada lost inter-city bus service in 2012 when Acadian Lines went out of business (a lesser service eventuallly took the place of Acadian). In 2017, Saskatchewan shuttered its extensive bus network run by the state-owned Saskatchean Transportation Company (created in 1946 by Canada’s first provincial social democratic government). Air travel is not an option for those who cannot afford it or whose communities are too small or remote to be serviced by air.
[So far, the federal and provincial governments have no plans to replace Greyhound service. Certainly, there is no plan to institute a state-run service. The oppositon New Democratic Party is content to demand that the government ‘do something’ to find and subsidize a new private service to replace Greyhound. Urban public transit is assumed to be a vital service if not basic right, and done properly–not simply to boost the real estate industry–transit is an essential means to mitigate the global warming emergency. But there is no similar attention to rural and inter-city bus service. Its decline–like that of passenger rail service–is a symptom in the era of globalized capitalism of the decline and neglect of healthy food production and ruling class indifference to the global warming emergency.]
U.S. to review uranium imports on national security grounds, including its largest supplier Canada, CBC News, July 19, 2018 Canada currently supplies 25 per cent of the United States’ uranium, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration
Alberta NDP government contracts out prying telephone survey promoting Trans Mountain tar sands pipeline, report in National Observer, July 16, 2018
In pictures, Canadian dailies’ juvenile reporting of Putin-Trump summit meeting in Finland:
And aping the same theme, New Democratic Party Member of Parliament Charlie Angus tweeted on July 17: ‘How does one describe the spectacle of the president of the United States acting like a compliant hand puppet of Vladimir Putin? Here is one succinct and articulate analysis…’ In another tweet one day earlier, Angus cites approvingly a former director of the CIA: ‘Former CIA chief stated “Trump’s press conference was nothing short of treasonous. Not only were his comments imbecilic, he is wholly in the pocket of Putin.” ‘ Meanwhile, the NDP’s foreign affairs critic, Hélène Laverdière, tweets her support for financier and oligarch Bill Browder who is waging a personal crusade against the Russian government for depriving him of allegedly ill-gotten gains during the cowboy capitalist years of post-Soviet Russia. [For the story of Bill Browder’s crusade, see this Oct 27, 2017 article.]
Annual parks report outlines action plan for meeting Canada’s land and freshwater protection targets, by Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society (CPAWS), July 17, 2018
* Report urges action on conservation to stem biodiversity crisis, by Gloria Galloway, Globe and Mail, July 17, 2018 … To date, just 10.5 per cent of Canada’s land and fresh water has been protected. To reach 17 per cent, which was promised at a meeting of 194 countries in Japan in 2010, an area approximately the size of Alberta will have to be declared off-limits to development over the next two years…
* Almost every part of Canada’s largest national park deteriorating: federal study, by Bob Weber, Canadian Press, July 15 2018 An exhaustive federal study of Canada’s largest national park concludes almost every aspect of its environment is deteriorating. The 561-page report on Wood Buffalo National Park says industry, dams, climate change and natural cycles are sucking the watery lifeblood from the vast delta of northeastern Alberta’s Peace and Athabasca rivers. The report was prepared after concerns were raised over the park’s UNESCO World Heritage status and it backs up most of the concerns…
Study says hundreds of glaciers in Canadian Arctic are shrinking, disappearing, by Bob Weber, Canadian Press, July 16, 2018
Ontario education minister flip-flops on sex-ed curriculum stance, Canadian Press, July 16, 2018
Related: Amid backlash over sex education curriculum, Ontario premier goes into damage control, by Martin Regg Cohn, Ontario politics columnist, Toronto Star, July 16, 2018
Justin Trudeau is supporting Donald Trump’s military agenda, by Thomas Walkom, national affairs columnist, Toronto Star, July 16, 2018 (Read here in pdf format: Justin Trudeau is supporting Donald Trump.) [The following is a supplementary note by A Socialist In Canada to an otherwise highly noteworthy column by the Toronto Star’ Thomas Walkom: The days when mainstream media in Canada and internationally would at least acknowledge the presence and extensive influence of the political extreme-right in Ukraine’s government and armed forces appear ended, even in analysis such as the above voicing scepticism about NATO’s new cold against Russia. The self-censoring includes no reporting of the rise of violence by Ukraine’s extreme right against national minorities in the country (notably the Roma people) and continued violence against journalists and anyone else critical of Ukraine’s ‘new order’ which staged a violent seizure of power in February 2014. Instead, we encounter heightened accusations of Russian ‘annexation of Crimea’ and ‘invasion of Ukraine’. The anti-Russia accusations serve to cover up the inexorable advance of NATO militarism and that of NATO’s partners in crime in the Asia-Pacific region.]
Liquefied natural gas projects are incompatible with British Columbia’s climate obligations, by Marc Lee, Canadian Center for Policy Alternatives (BC office), July 11, 2018
Related: Submission by Ben Parfitt of Canadian Center for Policy Alternatives (BC office) to the Scientific Hydraulic Fracturing Review Panel of the British Columbia government, June 25, 2018 (11 pages)
Advocates call for additional investigation into carding of Indigenous women and non-recorded checks by Vancouver police, by Cherise Seucharan, StarMetro Vancouver, July 12, 2018 … Indigenous women made up 21 per cent of women street checked (‘carded’) by police in 2016, and 20 per cent of women in 2017 despite making up only two per cent of the overall female population…
* One in five women ‘carded’ by Vancouver police in 2016 were Indigenous, CKNW News, July 11, 2018
* No changes to be made in police ‘carding’ of Indigenous people and Black people, says Vancouver mayor Gregor Robertson, Globe and Mail, July 11, 2018
Haiti’s popular uprising calls for President Jovenel Moïse’s removal, by Kim Ives, co editor, Haiti Liberté (print weekly, July 11, 2018 [Canadian media has been totally silent on the popular uprising against poverty taking place in Haiti. Little wonder. Its mainstream, corporate component is entirely complicit in the violent, paramilitary coup in 2004 that overthrew Haiti’s elected president and then the miserable failure of the international aid effort following the January 2010 earthquake. In Quebec, the political left as well as NGO industry is similarly complicit. In English speaking Canada, the political left is less compromised than its counterpart in Quebec, but it, too, is silent over current events. ‘Nuff said.
The case of Hassan Diab: Nothing less than a public inquiry will do, by Michelle Weinroth, published in The Bullet, July 11, 2018
Related: There should be a fully independent public inquiry to prevent any repeat of the injustice done to Hassan Diab, open letter by Joe Clark, Ed Broadbent and Monique Begin, published in the Globe and Mail, July 3, 2018 (text here)
Canadian PM talks tough in Latvia, backing anti-Russia NATO and extending Canada’s military adventure in Latvia to 2023, report by The Canadian Press, July 10, 2018
Canada to intervene in Iraq with 250 soldiers, under the guise of ‘training’, report by CBC News, July 11, 2018
Asylum seekers not to blame for shelter crisis in Toronto, commentary by Michael Coren, Toronto Star, July 10, 2018
Western provinces, First Nations urge Ottawa to provide alternative to cancelled Greyhound routes, Globe and Mail, July 10, 2018 [The Canadian government had no hesitation in spending billions of dollars in the recent nationalization of the Trans Mountain tar sands pipleline. But fund crucial, live-saving inter-city bus service? ‘Not interested”, says Ottawa.]
* Cutting Greyhound bus service in Western Canada puts Indigenous women at risk, op-ed by Emily Riddle, Globe and Mail, July 10, 2018
* How deregulation killed bus service west of Sudbury, by Thomas Walkom, columnist, Toronto Star, July 11, 2018
* Greyhound Canada to end inter-city bus service in Western Canada provinces, CBC News, July 8, 2018 [Alongside the rise of oil production, urban sprawl and automobile sales in Canada during the past four decades has been the decline of inter-city rail and bus passenger service. The only exception has been mixed improvement in rail passenger service in the Quebec City-to Windsor, Ontario corridor. First Atlantic Canada, now western Canada have lost altogether inter-city bus service, a service particularly important to working class and First Nations people. Media is failing to report that a key recommendation of the British Columbia government’s 2010 inquiry into missing and murdered Aboriginal women was provision of inter-city passenger bus service along the Highway of Tears in the north of the province. That recommendation was never implemented. Indeed, back in 2002, the government eliminated passenger rail service between Vancouver and Prince George and it has stood by as rail service between Prince George and Prince Rupert has dwindled to three times per week and ticket prices have risen sharply.]
Anti-Russia lunacy in Canada’s Globe and Mail [In the July 11, 2018 Globe and Mail, longstanding columnist Lawrence Martin calls Donald Trump “Putin’s wingman”. He writes, “Among the upheavals brought on by Donald Trump, it’s hard to find one more egregious than his scheming against his country’s traditional allies [ie NATO].” But how to explain the Trump regime’s threats, sanctions and military escalations against Russia? Not to speak of U.S. threats against Russia’s friend and ally China and not to speak of Syria and North Korea, where Russia is acting to stave off more U.S. aggression? Never mind, when it comes to anti-Russia hysteria, conspiracy trumps facts.]
* Russia hysteria reaches fever pitch in U.S. media as Trump-Putin summit looms, RT, July 11, 2018
* Liberals’ Trump-Russia fever dreams have reached parody status, by Matthew Walther, published in The Week, July 10, 2018 [Critiquing this lengthy essay: At Trump-Putin meeting, will Trump be meeting with his counterpart or his handler?, feature essay by Jonathan Chait, in New York Magazine, July 8, 2018] … I give voice to the above lunatic fancy, which I was able to concoct with almost minimal effort in a matter of about 30 seconds with the use of Twitter, Google, and Wikipedia, in the hope of reminding readers how easy it is to put together a plausible-sounding hypothesis if you are already convinced of certain premises. In this case, that premise is the fact that despite the lack of any real evidence, there exists or existed a high-level conspiracy between Trump and various members of his 2016 campaign and various agents of the Russian government, up to and potentially including Vladimir Putin himself, to elect Trump president of the United States two years ago…
Jewish group wants Trudeau to condemn glorification of Nazis during Latvia visit, by David Pugliese, Ottawa Citizen, July 9, 2018 [Pro-imperialist, anti-Russia Jewish groups in Canada such as B’nai Brith are caught in their own contradictions as they voice concern with the rise of extreme right forces in NATO-member countries such as Latvia and also in Ukraine. Governments and extreme-right groups there are rewriting World War Two-era history, celebrating Nazi sympathizers with commemorations, new laws and renamings of public spaces.]
Trudeau government commits to more troops, extended stay in provocative NATO mission in Latvia, report in CBC News, July 10, 2018
Ontario election 2018: Right-wing populism prevails over moderate social democracy, by Matt Fodor, published in The Bullet, July 9, 2018 [This article is a lengthy, factual recounting of the June 7 election in the province of Ontario, won by the pro-austerity and anti-immigrant Conservative Party led by Doug Ford. The article concludes with libertarian hopes that “revitalized social coalitions” will arise to oppose the new, right-wing Ontario government. What about building a left-wing party in the province of Ontario and country of Canada? The writer and the ‘Socialist Project’ publishers of The Bullet have not a word to offer.]
The pro-imperialist foreign affairs spokesperson for the NDP won’t run for re-election in 2019, report in Toronto Star, July 9, 2018 [Hélène Laverdière worked for several decades in Canada’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, beginning in 1992. Since 2011, she has been the latest in a long line of New Democratic Party foreign affairs spokespeople marching in footstep with the imperialist foreign policy of successive Liberal and Conservative party governments in Ottawa.]
Socialist International of 140 political parties globally adopts Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions policy against Israel, also calls for military embargo, by Palestinian Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions National Committee (BNC), July 5, 2018 [In Canada, the New Democratic Party remains a staunch defender of Israel as an apartheid and imperialist state (and here). Conveniently for the NDP’s pro-Zionist, pro-imperialist foreign policy, the NDP dropped its membership in the Socialist International in 2018. But the Socialist International resolution nonetheless provides an important basis to pursue debate in the party and in its affiliated trade unions to win their rank and file members to support the national rights of the Palestinian people.]
New right-wing government in Ontario follows Trump script with attacks against asylum seekers, report in Globe and Mail, July 5, 2018
* Ford government is ending co-operation with Ottawa on resettlement of asylum-seekers, Toronto Star, July 5, 2018
* Making immigration an issue is a dangerous game, by Thomas Walkom, columnist, Toronto Star, July 8, 2018
Class action lawsuit in Canada seeks $600 million for families of missing and murdered Aboriginal women, CBC News, July 5, 2018 [The class action lawsuit comes as the federal government-appointed National Inquiry Into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls (Wikipedia) stumbles along, suffering yet another resignation and reaffirming that it won’t investigate police and judicial negligence and misconduct (stories here and here). Some 1,100 women and girls have gone missing in Canada during the past decades, most of whom are Indigenous people.]
* Lawyer with Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls inquiry resigns, citing government interference, CBC News, July 3, 2018
* Inquiry into murdered and missing Indigenous women and girls fatally flawed, by Pamela Palmater, published in Lawyer’s Daily, May 15, 2017
Fort McKay and Mikisew Cree First Nations in Alberta leading charge on buy-in on Trans Mountain pipeline, by Gordon Hoekstra and Rob Shaw, Postmedia, July 5, 2018
* ‘Nowhere else to turn’: First Nations inundated by oilsands projects face impossible choices, photo essay by Judith Lavoie, published in The Narwhal, June 30, 2018 Indigenous communities living downstream of the Alberta oilsands say regulatory processes favour industry, creating a losing battle for traditional ways of life
* First Nations seek bigger stakes, profits from oil sector, Reuters, March 2, 2018
Child labour in British Columbia, home of Canada’s highest poverty rates, report by Glenda Luymes, Vancouver Sun, July 5, 2018 British Columbia stands out among provinces in Canada in allowing workers between 12 and 14 years of age to engage in virtually any form of work without regulatory authorization, according to a review of labour law being conducted by the British Columbia Law Institute.
… In 2003, the Liberal government removed a permit requirement for children under 15, allowing kids to work with a letter from parents. The letter is supposed to be kept by their employer.
“This puts the onus on parents to check if a work site is safe for their child, which can be quite awkward,” says Adrienne Montani, provincial coordinator with First Call B.C., a coalition of organizations that advocate for children and youth. “A teen doesn’t want their mom or dad poking around at their first job.”
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